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Track(s) taken from CDA67444

Elegiac Meditation, Op 83


Guildhall Strings, Clare Finnimore (viola), Robert Salter (conductor)
Studio Master FLAC & ALAC downloads available
Studio Master:
Studio Master:
Recording details: May 2003
Big School, Christ's Hospital, Horsham, West Sussex, United Kingdom
Produced by Andrew Keener
Engineered by Simon Eadon
Release date: July 2004
Total duration: 8 minutes 23 seconds


'This is music for an English summer evening, with a glass of wine to hand—rewarding in its unpretentious, melodious, nicely crafted way; especially when played with sympathy and elegance by Robert Salter and the excellent Guildhall Strings and so naturally balanced and recorded by Andrew Keener. Don't miss it' (Gramophone)

'The performances by Guildhall Strings are energetic and precise. Though a relatively small ensemble of 11 strings, they possess a Protean ability to convey a much plusher sound as required … Dare we hope this CD will mark the beginning of a break for Milford? He's long overdue one' (Fanfare, USA)
Dedicated to the viola player Jean Stewart, to whom Vaughan Williams also inscribed his Second String Quartet (‘to Jean on her birthday’), this intensely felt music for viola and strings is prefaced by two lines from Wordsworth’s ‘Lines Written in Early Spring’ from the Lyrical Ballads of 1798:

Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man?

It was probably written in 1946–7, and from its manner and notably dark, wistful tone, and the motto, one presumes it to be the composer’s meditation on the losses of six years of war, or could it be he is thinking of his dead son, Barnaby? The score was published by OUP in 1951 and first performed by the dedicatee with the Newbury String Orchestra conducted by Finzi at Christmas 1947, and again in November 1952. Here we see a new depth in Milford, as he finds a remarkable intensity in his soaring viola, exploring an angst never resolved. The music’s eloquence is reinforced by the soloist’s long-spun bitter-sweet lyrical line, its impact being heightened by the rich and varied scoring for the string orchestra which constantly underlines the passion. The closing bars are shadowed, the orchestral strings, now muted, quietly play again the music of the opening, but the soloist has not found repose and the work ends with acceptance rather than resolution.

from notes by Lewis Foreman © 2004

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